Chris Watts killed his pregnant wife and two young daughters

By Jeff Truesdell
November 28, 2018 05:40 PM
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Chris Watts had rejoiced with his wife, Shanann, when she surprised him last May with the news that they were expecting a third child, a reaction that she lovingly recorded in a video Shanann posted to her Facebook page.

But the triple-murderer kept that fact from another woman he began seeing soon thereafter — and when he did acknowledge to his mistress in August that his then-missing wife was pregnant, Watts claimed that Shanann told him the baby wasn’t his.

The detail is included in more than 2,000 pages of documents released by the Weld County, Colorado, District Attorney’s Office after Watts pleaded guilty and was sentenced this month for killing 34-year-old Shanann and the couple’s daughters Bella, 4, and Celeste, 3.

Chris and Shanann Watts with their two girls Celeste and Bella
| Credit: Facebook

Shanann and the girls disappeared on Aug. 13, after Shannan had returned to the family’s Frederick, Colorado, home after a short work trip. They were reported missing by a family friend, prompting Watts to make public appeals for their safe return, before he was arrested two days later and charged.

Shanann’s strangled body subsequently was found in a shallow grave at an oil work site owned by Watts’ former employer; the bodies of the two girls, who had been smothered, were found nearby, in drums containing crude oil.

Credit: Shanann Watts/Facebook

Shannan was 15 weeks pregnant at the time of her death.

To share the news of her pregnancy with Watts on May 29, Shanann donned a T-shirt with the words “Oops … we did it again,” and wore it in the video recording that she filmed as Watts came home that day. As Watts entered the home and approached her, the video shows him halting in mid-stride, breaking into a grin, and then walking up to Shanann and saying, “We did it again.”

He is subsequently seen on camera holding a pregnancy test. After leaning in and kissing Shanann, he says with a large grin, “I guess when you want to, it happens. Wow.”

Chris Watts, at left, and Shanann Watts
| Credit: Facebook

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Yet the story Watts told his mistress, Nichol Kessinger, was that he didn’t know Shanann was pregnant until the day almost 11 weeks later that Shanann vanished, according to the documents.

That morning of Aug. 13 — when prosecutors say he killed Shanann and their daughters to pursue a “fresh start” with Kessinger, a co-worker with whom he had begun a physical relationship in July — Watts alleged that he and his wife had argued, according to what Kessinger relayed from Watts to police. According to Watts’ account, Shanann turned “pretty mean” during the argument.

That’s when Watts claimed to Kessinger that he first learned about Shanann’s pregnancy — adding that his wife told him “the kid was not his,” Kessinger told investigators.

Authorities discounted Watts’ claim of alleged infidelity by his wife, who diligently tried to salvage the couple’s struggling marriage of nearly six years, the documents show.

“Nichol said he was playing like he did not know Shanann was pregnant, even though she was 15 weeks pregnant,” according to a summary of an interview Kessinger gave to Colorado Bureau of Investigators agents on Aug. 16.

Nichol Kessinger
| Credit: RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post/Getty

Kessinger learned of the pregnancy’s duration from media reports during the short window of time when authorities were searching for Watts’ missing family members.

“I thought, ‘If he was able to lie to me and hide something that big, what else was he lying about?’ ” Kessinger said in an interview with The Denver Post.

Watts was ordered to serve three consecutive life sentences for the murders, plus two more life sentences to be served concurrently, and 48 years for unlawful termination of a pregnancy for the death of the unborn child that Shanann’s family said she had planned to name Niko Lee.

Watts also was sentenced to 12 years each for three counts of tampering with a deceased body.

He was spared the death penalty as part of his guilty plea.